What My Kids Think About Me

1. What is something your mom always says to you?
Girl1 (age 6): You call me “cheeks”!

Girl2 (age 3): Don’t make a mess!

2. What makes your mom happy? 
G1: When we love you and try to make you a drawing.

G2: Give you a kiss


3. What makes your mom sad?
G1: When we hurt you and do something bad.

G2: When we be naughty.


4. How does your mom make you laugh? 
G1:When you say something funny and make me a silly drawing.

G2: When you make me a craft.

5. What was your mom like when she was a child?
G1: Long brown hair and glasses and you wore an orange and red tutu.  {True}

G2: . . .

IMG_8795

6. How old is your mom?
G1:32

G2: [Turns around and stretches her arms back, towards me, holding up two index fingers]


7. How tall is your mom? 
G1: As tall as the top of the lamp

G2: This tall [reaches way up]


8. What is her favorite thing to do? 
G1: Give us hugs and kisses and probably sleep together.

G2: Draw

IMG_6452


9. What does your mom do when you’re not around? 
G1: Try to look for us

G2: Don’t kick


10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? 
G1: Me and Girl 2

G2: It will be fwee [3], dus’ like me!

11. What is your mom really good at? 
G1: Writing faster and drawing words.

G2: Dwawing pictures with girls, babies  . .  boys . . . mamas . . . daddies.
12. What is your mom not very good at?

G1: Rollerskating {true}

G2: When you hoed my hand you won’t swip.
13. What does your mom do for a job? 
G1: Chores and clean the floors
{I have no idea how to explain being a lawyer to them.}

G2: Mop and bwooms and paints and dwawings.

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?

G1: Hamburgers and . . . what else? Hmm.  Chicken shrimp and fried soup and . . . that’s all.
G2: [wanders out of the room]

15. What makes you proud of your mom? 
G1: When you [long pause] . . . do something better than the house looked like last year.  [Tangent about how she liked the house better before I redecorated.]

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? 
G1: Maybe a fairy or a queen.


17. What do you and your mom do together? 
G1: Read a book and do chapters and tractors [???] and probably more toys and stuff.

18. How are you and your mom the same? 
G1: Because you’re my mommy

19. How are you and your mom different? 
G1: Because of my face and your face is not exactly the same.

20. How do you know your mom loves you? 
G1: Because of all the fun things we do.



21. What does your mom like the most about your dad? 
G2: When you wuv him and he’s good at playing the guitar.

G1: . . .

G1: Do you like fried soup Mommy?

Me: I don’t think I’ve ever had fried soup.

G1:  Yes you have!  At that restaurant . . .

Me: Oh!  You mean Sopa Azteca.  Yes, I like that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“

Linking up with Sarah and Diana.  You should too!

If I were born 100 years earlier, I would have been a nun.

. . . and what contraception, the vocations crisis, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Fifty Shades of Gray all have to do with each other.  Read all about it at The Mirror.

Actually, I just looked it up and Virginia Woolf was born almost exactly 100 years earlier than I.  You’ll have to read the article to see why that’s significant.  (If at all; I think it is.)

Sometimes I have those bursts of mania brilliance where everything is alll connected.

Lucky for you, this time I wrote it down. 😉

 

I Don’t Like Being A Mom, And That’s Okay

A friend once asked me point blank, “Do you like being a mom?”  I found myself at a loss for words.  I love love my children more than life itself.  They are a precious gift and raising them is my top priority.  But do I like being a mom?

Not really.

Read all about it at The Mirror and let me know what you think.

Style and the SAHM: Five Reasons It Matters

If you read my blog, you might notice that I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of a mom uniform.  I really want to be able to have a closet full of outfits that I can wear all day, every day and look presentable–without having to think too much about it.  Because if I have to think about it, most days I’ll stay in my pajamas.  And here are some of my favorite reasons for not staying in my pajamas:

  • Dressing nicely shows respect for my job.  I am not just putting in time as a full-time mom; it is my life’s most important work.  Dressing nicely is a nod to the dignity of my work.   Dwija has a great post about that idea here as does Dana here.  And I LOVE Jennifer’s post here.
  • Dressing nicely shows respect for myself.  A great post on this topic is “Why Frumpy Makes You Grumpy.”  On the flip-side, discounting what I wear just around the house or just to the grocery store is a short and slippery slope to a really horrible place.

  • Dressing nicely shows respect for my husband.  I mean:

Said no husband.  Ever.

 

  • Dressing nicely shows respect for those around me.

  • Finally, don’t you want to be like this chick?

Via CalsidyRose on Flickr

P.S. This post needs two huge caveats.  First, if anyone had told me all this for my first 6 (or 9 or 12) months postpartum, I would’ve smacked ’em upside the head.  So if you have a new baby, or if you’re sick, or under a lot of stress, or exhausted for whatever reason, this isn’t intended for you.  Also, my definition of “dressing nicely” is very liberal.  Anything above the pajama pants and Crocs gets an “A” for effort in my book.

Aaaaand, because this list just happens (*wink*) to have five items in it, I’m joining  Hallie for her Five Favorites link up.

Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Getting the Support You Need

With all of these style posts I’m writing, I don’t want to lose perspective.  Clothes, after all, are superficial, on the outside.  Let me not fail to mention that what’s on the insidebeneath it all, is the most important . . . .

Life can be hard for us ladies.  Pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain, weight loss.   Maybe just the passage of time.  It can all get you down.  Make you feel a little, you know, low.  Lacking in pep.

With all these changes, you might find that the support structures you had in place before–the friends to whom you turned day after day– just don’t give you the pick-me-up they used to.  Perhaps you feel disloyal discarding them.  After all, they’ve been with you through thick and thin.  But face it,  they’re probably feeling a little stretched thin themselves, overextended.  It’s time to cut the ties that bind and get the help that you need.

Some of us might be lucky enough to get professional help.  Someone who can evaluate just where you are, size you up, if you will, and lead you to better, higher, firmer ground.  (But never trust some local yokel claiming to have a “secret” remedy.)  (NSFW)

The rest of us, due to geographical or budgetary restraints, have to strike out on our own.

You should take heed of the wisdom of sisters who have gone before you, like Shana and Anne.  Take heed of their warnings and the advice that they, in turn, received from those wiser than themselves.  You might  use some online diagnostic tools, (also NSFW), which can  help you evaluate how bad things have gotten, you know: just how low you go?

The key, it appears, is to recall the words of the Psalmist and ask yourself:

[Does] my cup runneth over?

It may be scary, it may take time:

When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not be quick to trust them.  (Sir. 6:7)

You may need to spend more money than you would like:

Faithful friends are beyond price,  no amount can balance their worth.  (Sir. 6:15)

You may be distracted by by options that are flashy on the outside but flimsy underneath, but remember,

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting. (Prov. 31:30)

Keep your eye on the prize, ladies:

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure (Sir. 6:14) . . .

Once you do, they will perk you up again in no time!

Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2

Before I go further with this series (you can read the first two posts here and here), I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the man who is my inspiration, both in fashion and in life: my husband. Patrick has perfected the art of the fool-proof everyday uniform, as shown in his fall/winter work wardrobe:

IMG_1633

Sweater: Lands’ End (no longer available in Tall)
Jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: New Balance

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style sweater, different color

Same style sweater, different color

3 sweaters, 2 looks.

But don’t worry, sometimes he cuts loose and does something a little different:

IMG_1634

(Clearly, I’m fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t take himself too seriously and sometimes lets me have fun at his expense.)

So back to my fall/winter uniform:

IMG_1284

My current line-up includes both new and old purchases. I must admit, I’ve been buying things here and there before doing a complete closet clean-out and reassessment. But it worked out okay (with they exception of a few flubs, described below).

For example, this outfit has a Gap Outlet cardigan from 2009. I pair it with a new, striped tee (a (rare) Old Navy clearance rack purchase of recent months) and a skinny belt.

IMG_1266

This next outfit has another cardigan from the same Gap Outlet shopping trip of 2009. I pair it with a floral tank I bought from Lands’ End last summer (no longer available).

Until recently I wouldn’t think of combining a print with argyle, but I like how they go together (also seen with a polka dot skirt one recent Sunday):

IMG_0417

One of these days I’ll clean that mirror.

Here’s yet another sweater from that same fateful Gap Outlet trip of 2009. I pair it with a scarf I found at a yard sale.

IMG_1412

But with jeans.

One of my favorite recent purchases is this sweater (which I wore in this What I Wore Sunday post):

IMG_1580

I’m trying to accessorize more when I go out, but I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. This necklace (discussed in this post) would be good in a different color, but I see red + green and think Christmas tree:

IMG_1581

These earrings look the part, I think, but, I dunno, would you wear them to story time at the library? (And would you trust your toddler not to rip through your earlobes with them?)

IMG_1583

IMG_0588

So I’m on the lookout for a scarf or necklace to wear with the polka-dot sweater.

Next in my current line-up, I have a cable knit white cotton sweater:

IMG_1368

This, however, is next in line for the give-away pile. You see, I bought this sweater at a consignment store recently. I wish I had Mary with me because I ignored the fact that it didn’t fit quiiiiiiiite right.

I just love the look of a white cable knit sweater. So crisp.

So Brideshead:

Alright, maybe fictional, effeminate Oxford boys of the 1930s are not the best fashion inspiration. But Kate is!

But mine just doesn’t fit exactly right. And one thing I’ve learned is that fit is everything. If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style. My white sweater would be better a bit longer and preferably a little fitted at the waist. And maybe a v-neck would be better?

IMG_1365

Not quite the right fit.

Also it could use some accessorizing. Since becoming a Color Me Beautiful aficionado, I’m convinced that white and black wash me out and it’s better to wear color near my face.

I thought perhaps a collared shirt underneath would work, like this:

But no.

IMG_1278

Sarah Vickers I am not.

I have a hard time with collared shirts under sweaters. I don’t know what it is.

I also tried it with scarf, but nope. Maybe I’ll try tying the scarf a different way, or a different scarf.

Maybe if I'll try tying the scarf differently.

Maybe if I’ll try tying the scarf differently.

So, a better-fitting white sweater is also on my look-for list. In the mean time, I still wear the sweater because . . . well, I still kind of like it. My new rule for buying clothes, whether at a thrift store or elsewhere, is to buy something only if I’m 100% satisfied. In a world of unlimited wants and limited resources, though, my rule for keeping things once I’ve already purchased them is maybe . . . 75% satisfaction. 😉

I learned a few things just as I was taking pictures for this post. For example, I have worn this combination a few times. But after taking a picture I mended my ways. Meh.

IMG_1291

Belting it didn’t help much:

IMG_1292

I bought the striped shirt from a thrift store a few months ago (duh duh DUN), and it has now received what most of my thrift store purchases have received (i.e. the boot). The cardigan was a Target purchase and, like most things I’ve bought there, it hasn’t kept its shape. For some reason, though, it looks okay with the chambray shirt, so I’m keeping it around for a while longer.

But with jeans.

But with jeans.

Sometimes I wear the chambray shirt (another recent Old Navy clearance find) on its own with this scarf:

IMG_0497

I also have a heavy wool sweater for very cold days, like this past Thanksgiving:

IMG_0645

Just recently, when I should have known better, I bought a $9 striped, dolman sleeve top from what is truly the dregs of the retail market: Ross . . . in the junior’s department {hanging head in shame}. I don’t have a great picture, but you get the idea here:

IMG_1322

When I bought it, I didn’t notice the tag saying “HAND WASH ONLY.” Right, like that’s gonna happen. I machine washed it in cold water, hung it to dry, and it didn’t fit as well afterward. Now, a couple more cold-water washes and drip-dries later, it’s pilling, it has threads coming off, and it’s lost even more shape. $9 down the drain.

IMG_1279

Well, there you have it: my everyday uniform for the colder months.

Except that I haven’t discussed, you know, the entire lower half of each outfit. That is a post in itself, (make that two posts or three) for next time . . . .

Five of My Favorite Things, Vol. II

Back again at Hallie’s fun new link-up over at Moxie Wife and sharing five of my favorite things:

  • Rachel Meeks’ funny and useful flowchart to help you decide “Should I Buy This Shirt?”  I don’t feel right cutting and pasting it here, but you can check it out with this link.  Really, you should.  One page. 
  • Pig tails:  IMG_1574
  • Command hooks: they make them for hanging pictures!  Who knew?  If only I had known about these before.  My poor walls would be much less injured.  I tend to hang things up then change my mind six months later.  Also, they’re great for giving my keys a safe haven from the abyss of my purse.

IMG_1496

  • Bengal Spice tea from Celestial Seasonings.  Like chai but non-caffeinated.  So delicious at nighttime with generous amounts of milk and sweetener.

Thanks, Hallie, for hosting this fun link up!!

Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 1

I began working on my “mom uniform” a few months ago, frustrated at having lots and lots of clothes but nothing to wear (as described in last Saturday’s post).   I decided to build a functional wardrobe, and not collect pieces at random as I had done for years.

Mary, of With My Sisters, has a very helpful,  ongoing series on building a wardrobe on a budget.  I’ve drawn lots of inspiration from that and also from Audrey’s series on Building a Wardrobe From Scratch, over at Putting Me Together.  Both ladies say an initial step is to make a plan, to determine what you really need for your lifestyle.  (And here I was, all my life, thinking the first step was to browse the 70% off rack at Target!)

This is what I think my ideal wardrobe would look like:

  • 7 casual outfits, comfortable enough for chores around the house and presentable enough for being seen in public
    • 4 pairs of pants would be enough here, but
    • 7 separate tops are ideal because the kiddos leave so many mementos of themselves on me throughout the day
  • 4 church outfits
  • 2 dressier outfits (weddings, fancy parties, etc.)
  • 1 or 2 “going out”/ “dressy casual” outfits (I have so much trouble with this category).

Another crucial step  is cleaning out your closet.  I made a big purge of summer clothes last year (no pictures though), and one of winter clothes this year.

Mary describes the process well on her blog.  I did my big closet clean-out before she wrote her post, but I pretty much followed the process she describes.

The most crucial questions for me were

(a) Does it fit? and more fundamentally

(b) Whether or not it fits, would I enjoy wearing it?

I was surprised at how often the answer to (b) was “No.”

Here are my rejects:

Casual sweaters and tops, all either uncomfortable, unflattering, ill-fitting, or pilled.  Plus a truly ancient denim skirt.

Casual sweaters and tops, all either uncomfortable, unflattering, ill-fitting, or pilled. Plus a truly ancient denim skirt.  (I later decided to give the cardigan at the top left another try.)

An assortment of (mostly) old work clothes.  Any guesses what my color story used to be?

An assortment of (mostly) old work clothes. Any guess what my go-to color scheme used to be?

I bought the top on the left at Target when I was a few months post-partum and DESPERATE for something that fit.  I hated it almost as soon as I bought it but kept wearing it for months.

I bought the shirt on the left at Target when I was a few months postpartum and DESPERATE for something that fit. I hated it almost as soon as I bought it but kept wearing it almost every day for months.  Good riddance!

Assorted not-me tops.  I love the colors of the green shirt in the middle, but the style was uncomfortable and unflattering.

Assorted bad-idea tops. I love the colors of the green shirt in the middle, but the style was uncomfortable and unflattering.

A skirt and assorted pants that were old, old, old, never did fit really well and never will.

A skirt and assorted pants that were old, old, old.  Most never did fit really well and probably never will.

A pair of Sevens for $6 at Goodwill!  $6 too much, as it turns out, since the rise is ridiculously low and I will never ever wear them.

A pair of Sevens for $6 at Goodwill! . . .  They were six dollars too much, as it turns out, since the rise is ridiculously low and I will never ever wear them.

What’s amazing to me is how many of these items I bought at thrift stores, consignment stores, or on super-duper clearance but never really liked.   I wish I hadn’t been so “thrifty” and had bought just a few nice items instead.  I probably would have spent less money in the long run.

At the end of this process, I had whittled down my cold-weather wardrobe so that it all fit here:

My tops, skirts, dresses and jackets, plus all my shoes, all hang on my side of the closet.

My tops, skirts, dresses, jackets, and shoes all fit on my side of the closet.

Some jeans and sweaters are on the bottom right shelf.  Gym clothes, underwear, and night clothes are in the drawers.

Jeans, sweaters, and sweatshirts are on the bottom right shelf. Gym clothes, underwear, and night-clothes are in the drawers.  You can see my rejects in the box on the floor, awaiting a trip to the consignment shop.

Summer clothes and maternity/post-partum clothes are stored away in bins.  Also (I admit), I have ten or so items hanging in my daughter’s closet: things I really like but that don’t fit now, plus some suits and blazers for the occasional times I need to look professional.

Once I cleared away all of the items that (a) didn’t fit well, (b) I didn’t like, or (c) weren’t appropriate for my life, it was pretty easy to put together an everyday “uniform” mostly from items I already had.

For the first wardrobe category–my everyday outfits–I’ve assembled these:

IMG_1284

Plus jeans.  I’ve decided that right now I want to wear blue jeans every day.  Boring perhaps, but it works for me.  Finding the right blue jeans, though, has been an ongoing process that is anything but boring.   I’ll describe that in a separate post.

Everything is machine washable (crucial, crucial, crucial) and comfortable enough that I don’t mind wearing it all day long.  Ideally nothing would need to be ironed, but I make an exception for the chambray button-up.  Usually, though, I wear it about once a week and can get away with washing it every other time.  So I only have to iron every two weeks.  😉

Here’s how it might work on a typical day:

When I get dressed in the morning (sometimes not until late morning but oh well), I can grab a pair of jeans and a top (or sweater/top combo) easily, without having to think about it.

Woo hoo!  Dressed.

Woo hoo! Dressed.

If you knock on my door in the middle of the day, I’ll probably look like this:

Just call me Mrs. Joe Gargery

Just call me Mrs. Joe Gargery

But if I’m going out, it only takes a few minutes to pull myself together because I’m already wearing real clothes!  Brilliant, right?  😉

IMG_1551

Today was chilly and we were going to the playground, so I put on a navy corduroy blazer over my cardigan and added a pink scarf and a black hat (because brown, navy and black totally work together, right?):

IMG_1553

And there are some lots of days when the girls are uncooperative and we need to leave ten minutes ago, and all I can manage is this:

IMG_1560

But hey, it’s better than pajama pants and Crocs!

I’m not looking to make it on anyone’s best-dressed list.  I still have so much to learn about dressing well.  But I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, so I share it with you.  If you have any comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them.  (If you think it’s hopeless and I should just give up now, well, just keep it to yourself.)

In my next post in this series, I’ll give more details of my current wardrobe and some thoughts on how I’d like to improve it.

Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: A Quest

Does anyone else have the Grocery Store Dilemma?  Here’s how it plays out for me:

I might need to go to the store but I’m in bumming-around-the-house clothes.  I have one hour—no more!—between morning naptime and the attack of the kids’ lunch-time grumpies.  I hate wasting time getting changed because, heck, it’s just the grocery store.  So, I might go to the store in sweat pants and a dirty, stretched-out polo and tennis shoes.  But sure enough: I run into 10 different people I know, probably including my former boss, my husband’s boss, my pastor, and four or five single friends who are dressed in heels, picking up some Vitamin Water on their lunch break.

Style and the Stay at Home Mom https://thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com

Even if I am spared this humiliation and don’t see anyone I know, sometimes I see myself in the security camera monitor and cringe.  And it’s not just vanity.  When I go out in those sloppy clothes, I don’t look like me.  I look like someone less than the person I really am.

And sadly, as the years go by and the weight creeps up and the wrinkles set in, the stakes get so much higher.  I’m less likely to pull off the scruffy-but-still-somewhat-cute look à la Hillary Duff:

 

Ah, well, even celebrities have those days.

It’s more likely that I’ll look something like this:

In the alternative, I might try to make myself decent and open my closet, only to find the following:

  • 5 pairs of jeans that used to fit,
  • dry-clean only dress pants,
  • off-season cropped white capris,
  • three blouses that only work with my one black cami (currently in the hamper),
  • some itchy sweaters, and
  • a college sweatshirt.
  • Oh, and a silk tank top with sequins.

That’s the dilemma I met almost every day after becoming a stay-at-home mom.  I had closets and bins full of clothes but few that fit and even fewer that looked good.  I had nothing that I could wear comfortably around the house with the kids and look presentable in when going out.

Then I saw this little video from Crystal at Money Saving Mom:

It really rocked my world.  Crystal is the first to insist that she’s “no fashionista.”   Certainly, her style is not cutting-edge, and it’s not the same as mine (to the extent I have one).  But this showed me it’s possible to be comfortable yet look pretty, put-together . . . presentable. . . every day.  

Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook

A little later I came across Rachel Meeks and her blog, Small Notebook, where she has an awesome series about simplifying one’s wardrobe and about her own “comfortably dressy” attire.

Oh man, where do I sign?

I want that.

Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to build a wardrobe full of outfits that are comfortable, flattering, and suitable to my current state in life.   A Mom Uniform, if you will.   It’s been fun.  It’s been a learning process, for sure.  I have a long way still to go.  I hope you enjoy reading as I blog about it!